What Is Coinsurance?

If you think about a building and consider the potential causes of loss, what do you think the chances are that it could suffer a total loss vs. a partial loss? Take into account some of the more common causes of loss: fire, theft, water damage, vandalism, etc. It’s not often that a building is completely destroyed. Usually the only time you hear stories about this is in the news under extreme circumstances.

Insureds who recognize this might take a gamble and limit the amount of insurance they purchase. Why pay the higher premium for full coverage when chances are it will never be needed? Individuals who purchase full coverage pay much higher premium than those who reduce the amount of their insurance.

In an effort to prevent this for happening and to encourage insureds to carry a reasonable amount of insurance in relation to the true value of their property, a coinsurance clause is included within many commercial property insurance policies. The coinsurance clause determines what percentage of the value of your property must be insured in order to be fully reimbursed for a loss. The most commonly issued coinsurance percentage is 80%

Here’s how it works:

Say a policy carries an 80% coinsurance clause. Using the following numbers as an example:

Total replacement cost of Building – 1,000,000
Applicable Coinsurance Percentage  –  80%
Amount insurance carried  –  $600,000
Amount of Loss  –  $300,000

80% coinsurance means the insured is required to carry an amount of insurance equal to 80% of the replacement cost of the building ($800,000 in this case).

To compute the loss payout for the above example, use the following coinsurance equation:

(Amount of insurance Carried / Amount of insurance required) multiplied by the amount of loss equals the settlement.

Filling in the numbers, take ($600,000 / $800,000) multiplied by $300,000 equals $225,000.

So the insured lost out on $75,000 by not insuring their building to 80% of the replacement cost ($800,000)

Coinsurance limits the amount the insurer must pay for damaged property to that proportion of the loss. It is crucial that values of property are accurately reported and updated annually to reflect inflation and other increases in cost.

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. –G.I. Joe

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About Jim Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management Broker

Jim is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the ISU - Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage in Torrance, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Long Beach, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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